Jaguar Land Rover has delivered a record year of sales bolstered by demand for luxury cars in China and North America.
Britain’s biggest car manufacturer sold 604,009 vehicles in the 12 months to the end of March, the most in its 95-year history and 16% more than a year earlier.
Growth was strongest in China, where sales jumped 32%, followed by North America, where growth was 24%. Sales were up 16% in the UK and 13% in Europe.
The Coventry-based company said growth was driven by demand for newer models such as the Jaguar F-Pace SUV, as well as more established models.
“These solid results demonstrate the appeal of our products and our ability to deliver strong, profitable and sustainable growth,” said Ralf Speth, chief executive.
“We are continuing to invest significantly in new models and innovation, as shown by the new Land Rover Discovery, the forthcoming Range Rover Velar and all-electric Jaguar I-Pace, reinforcing our commitment to new technologies and providing new and compelling customer experiences.”
Record sales and a strong fourth-quarter performance drove full-year revenue up 9% to £24bn, generating pre-tax profits of £1.6bn, up 3%.
Jaguar Land Rover has been held up by ministers as a poster child for British manufacturing, and is one of the UK’s largest exporters, with about 80% of revenue generated from cars sold abroad.
Over the past six years, the carmaker owned by India’s Tata has doubled sales and employment, more than tripled turnover, and invested more than £15bn.
During the 2016-17 financial year, the company invested over £3.4 bn, which included £1bn on the construction of its new manufacturing plant in Nitra, Slovakia, and expansion at its UK sites.
The company said despite the “volatile economic environment”, it planned to spend more than £4bn in this financial year on new products, technology, factory expansion and research and development.
The company announced in March that the new Range Rover Velar will be built exclusively at its plant in Solihull, West Midlands. Speth said at the time it was a sign of Jaguar Land Rover’s confidence in British manufacturing. “Our heart, soul and headquarters will always be in the UK,” he said.
The UK car industry had a record year in 2016, with annual sales of new vehicles at 2.69m. Demand has partly been driven by consumers capitalising on cheap finance deals and those seeking more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Industry leaders have voiced fears however about the outlook for UK carmakers once Britain has left the EU. The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders warned in November car manufacturing was at risk of “death by a thousand cuts” if companies choose to invest in other countries.
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